What is the best way to apply for voice over jobs? How do you compose a suitable covering letter for an agent? A few simple do's and don'ts will help you stand out from the crowd.
Don't Do What Everyone Else DoesIf you have ever run a business you will know there is nothing quite so dispiriting as receiving an unsolicited job application that begins 'Dear Sir or Madam'. Invariably this missive will then waffle on about how the applicant has done this and that and would like to know if there are any 'positions' in your company.
As you read on, it dawns on you that this person has not looked at your website properly and has absolutely no idea what you (or your organisation) actually does, let alone what gender you are. It feels impersonal and above all irrelevant.
There is no option but to send to trash.
Amazingly many aspiring voice talents adopt the same scatter gun approach when applying for voice over work. They assume that if they create a template covering letter, then this can be used for everyone from the BBC to Audible audiobooks.
So what should you do?
There are a few important steps you can take to make sure your application gets noticed:
- Target your letter to the place you are applying. So if it is a production company specialising in corporate videos, explain how your voice may be of interest to them.
- Find out a name. A quick courtesy phone call to the company or agent will help you establish who is the most relevant person to send your application to. Personalisation works wonders.
- Make sure your demos have a bias that is relevant to that organisation, E.g. don't send your Shakespearean sonnets to a commercial production outfit.
- Above all learn everything you can about the company or agency: what do they do? Have they won any awards? In what capacity do they use freelance voice overs?
Presentation is EverythingVoice overs are showbiz. OK I know they are not the all-singing-all-dancing variety, but the discipline is regarded as a performing art. As such your CV (and/or covering letter) should reflect this.
It may seem counter intuitive, but enclose a photo (yikes!). Yeah, yeah I know voiceovers have nothing to do with what you LOOK like, but we live in the visual age of the Internet and anything you can do to personalise a letter or email can only be a good thing.
A voice over agent will be using your mugshot on their website anyway, so you had better get used to it.
Let your personality shine through with a font and colour scheme that reflect the sound of your voice. If you are formal and mature, then warm sober tones (e.g. browns and oak reds) could work well in Times New Roman. Likewise if your voice is light, bright and young then more eye-catching hues such as purple-blues or chrome yellows might work well with Helvetica. It is all a matter of personal choice.
Whatever you choose, just bear in mind you are not applying for an accountancy post!
Email or Snail Mail?
I have to admit to being a bit old fashioned on this. Emails (and an attached mp3 of your demos) can easily be deleted - intentionally or not. Furthermore spam filters have a habit of sweeping away even legitimate traffic.
A CD and hard copy letter are palpable entities; they have to be physically opened.... or thrown in the bin. A 'signed for' delivery will cost you more, but it will attract attention and definitely arrive at its destination. This method has much more impact.
But Where Are These Voice Over Companies?
Alright, so we have dealt with the nitty gritty of what your letter should look like, but you are probably thinking this is all very well if you know some actual addresses to apply to.
I would start locally; try Googling production companies in your area - you will be amazed how many there are, some might be just down the road from where you live.
Then cast your net wider. A good investment is the Contacts book, containing just about every British TV and radio company and agency. It could be the best £13 you ever spend.
Gary Terzza is a leading UK voice over trainer and welcomes enquiries about his course.